Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Governor, the Senator, & Water

Governor Schwarzenegger and Senator Feinstein have co-written an excellent article for the Los Angels Times that continues their effort to move the California legislature to a sensible water policy for our growing state that includes building more dams to increase water storage, and it is something that has needed doing for some time.

Along with the dams they wish to build and the obvious solution for our area, the building of Auburn Dam, still supported by groups—including us—like the Auburn Dam Council, there is another that would solve the water problems for the larger region and that is the raising of Shasta Dam to its originally engineered height of 200 feet higher than it now is, tripling its water supply, which an article from the Sacramento Bee describes:

Concrete solution for water? Raising Shasta Dam's height looms large among ideas to boost state's dwindling storage. By David Whitney -- Bee Washington Bureau Published 2:15 am PST Monday, November 22, 2004

‘….From an engineering standpoint, it's a piece of cake. The dam, built between 1938 and 1945, was originally planned to be 200 feet taller. At 800 feet, it would have been the highest and biggest in the world.

“Sheri Harral, public affairs officer at the dam, said World War II and materials shortages associated with the war effort led to a decision to stop construction at 602 feet.

"The thinking was to come back and add on to it if ever there was a need to," Harral said. "They started looking at raising it in 1978."

“If Shasta Dam had been built up to its engineering limit in 1945, it is arguable that Northern and Central California would not be facing a critical water shortage now.

“According to a 1999 Bureau of Reclamation study, a dam 200 feet taller would be able to triple storage to 13.89 million acre-feet of water.”

The cost for these two projects alone is probably in the $20 billion range today, a relatively low price to pay for the extra water, hydroelectric power, Parkway and salmon sustainability (from the stabilization of American River water flow and temperature from Auburn Dam) and extra flood protection.